Quarterbacks (2): Joe Flacco, Marc Bulger
Analysis: Troy Smith has performed decently during the preseason despite a rag tag offensive line that has forced him to regularly pull the ball down prematurely and scamper. In three preseason games, Smith has completed 16 of 25 passes for 151 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions for a 93.9 passer rating. Not bad but still not good enough to stick. Smith could get all four quarters of action against the Rams tomorrow night and the Ravens hope he shows well so that they might gain a sixth round pick from a QB needy team.
Running Backs (4): Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, Le’Ron McClain, Jalen Parmele
Analysis: Curtis Steele remains behind Jalen Parmele primarily because of Parmele’s kick return abilities. But newcomer Josh Wilson puts an interesting spin on this competition and it could help to close the gap for Steele since Wilson is an accomplished kick returner. The Ravens might target Steele for the practice squad.
Tight Ends (3): Todd Heap, Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta
Analysis: This is the easiest positional battle on the team to call unless the former East Carolina QB Davon Drew can suddenly show that he’s an accomplished punt returner or a Wildcat Wizard. Clearly I jest…
Wide Receivers (6): Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, Demetrius Williams, Marcus Smith
Offensive Linemen (9): Jared Gaither, Ben Grubbs, Matt Birk, Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher, Chris Chester, Oniel Cousins, Tony Moll, David Hale
Analysis: Hale is hanging by a thread and it would not be surprising to see Ozzie Newsome pull another rabbit out of his hat (as he did with Josh Wilson) and land a serviceable swingman who can play guard and tackle.
Defensive Linemen (8): Haloti Ngata, Kelly Gregg, Trevor Pryce, Cory Redding, Terrence Cody, Kelly Talavou, Paul Kruger, Art Jones
Analysis: Talavou still has a slight edge over the trailing trio of Art Jones, Lamar Divens and Brandon McKinney. Divens and McKinney seem to be fading somewhat and it’s doubtful that the Ravens will risk losing Jones. He’ll either be IR’d or he’ll make the club. With Cody’s knee injury and uncertainty for the opener against the Jets, the Ravens could keep an extra player here temporarily and that would pressure other positional battles.
Linebackers (9): Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Jarret Johnson, Dannell Ellerbe, Tavares Gooden, Jameel McClain, Antwan Barnes, Prescott Burgess, Jason Phillips
Analysis: The special teams play of Gooden, McClain, Barnes, Burgess and Phillips could ultimately help David Reed and threaten Marcus Smith if they all stick. Brendon Ayanbadejo heading to PUP while Edgar Jones continues to make boneheaded choices that will force him off the roster. He’s been the angry man starting with a camp brawl v. Todd Heap and followed by two late hits out of bounds during preseason games.
Secondary (9): Ed Reed, Dawan Landry, Tom Zbikowski, Haruki Nakamura, Fabian Washington, Lardarius Webb, Chris Carr, Ken Hamlin, Cary Williams, Josh Wilson
Special Teams (3): Billy Cundiff, Morgan Cox, Sam Koch
Analysis: It could be argued that Shayne Graham and Cundiff are still battling to a draw. If true (and I think it is…perhaps even a slight edge to Cundiff), the rationale here suggests the Ravens go with the less expensive model and that’s Billy.